Durham team reaches international final of KPMG competiton
By Natasha Tierney
A Durham University team have made it to the international stage of the annual KPMG International Case Competition.
Having completed several challenging rounds in the national competition, Deepesh Patel, Joshua Eaton, Thomas Kilford and Joseph Switalski were chosen to represent the UK in the international finals, to be held in Hong Kong between the 17th and 20th of April. With 25 countries participating and over 150 competitors involved, the team will be expected to provide practical and innovative solutions to a number of business scenarios similar to those faced by real KPMG professionals, which they will then present to the judging panel. If successful, they proceed to the final round in which the top four competing teams will battle it out in the hopes of winning the prestigious global competition title and a two thousand pound prize.
Despite the challenging competition ahead, the Durham team seems confident that their strong performance in the national rounds will give them a good chance of impressing the judges in Hong Kong, with Joseph Switalski telling Palatinate that “in terms of preparing for Hong Kong, I don’t think any of us are going overboard. I’m reading the paper every so often and trying to take on board a bit of new information regarding economics but nothing too strenuous. We won because we presented well and came up with solutions that matched our areas of knowledge, I think it would be unwise to deviate from that strategy purely because we made it to the finals.”
The team originally decided to apply for the competition after coming across it online, but had low expectations of success given their lack of a business or economics background (two members of the team study Law, one Modern Languages and one Natural Sciences). Nonetheless, with KPMG’s own emphasis to applicants on the importance of teamwork in coming up with ‘truly innovative’ business solutions, Switalski believes that it was his team’s ‘strong camaraderie’ that set them apart from the rest of the competition in their presentations. He also notes that after attending an official dinner before the national final, it was only the two teams from Durham who accepted the invitation to join the organizers for a drink, something he says “says a lot about the social element of Durham student life, and served us well in coming across as accessible and welcoming to the judges.”
Given their own unexpected success this year, the team very much recommend next year’s competition to any Durham student regardless of their degree. As one of the ‘Big Four’ global auditors alongside Deloitte, Ernst and Young, and PwC, KPMG is one of the largest professional services networks in the world, and the International Cases Competition provides a unique platform for participants from all over the world to showcase their professional potential in front of a panel of top business men and women, with a possibility of future employment with the company. Having triumphed against some very tough competition here in the UK, this year’s team look set to do Durham proud in Hong Kong and Palatinate wishes them the very best of luck.
For more information about how to apply for next year’s competition, visit the KICC page on the official KPMG website.